The Great 21st Century Poemic

by Trudi Lee Richards

It struck one day
out of the blue, 
cropping up all at once
in random spots
all across the planet

The first known cases
were a small boy
in Lincoln, Nebraska,
whom his mother found
one morning
reciting strange
and beautiful words
a small smile
on his small face
and
a grandmother
in Melbourne, Australia,
who was caught
that very same day
wandering the aisles
of a department store
reciting verses
from the Tang Dynasty

After that
the Poemic spread
lickety split
leaping like lightning
across whole oceans 
and continents

In London 
a mother of six woke up
spouting Tennyson
and in no time 
her entire family was babbling
in iambic pentameter

In Buenos Aires a family
was stricken
with the odes of Pindar
in the original 
ancient Greek

In Beijing
a whole neighborhood
was infested 
with Billy Collins

And so it went.
How the Poemic was able
to spread itself 
so far and wide
so fast
no one knew

At first 
it was thought to be passed
simply through the spoken word
but soon 
infectious particles
were discovered
hitching rides on sound waves,
in rays of light
and even nestled
in random thoughts

Scientists also knew
that however it flew
it was always spewing out 
more and more spores
that would land
take hold
and grow

It was only 
a matter of time
before the entire economy
of the world
had settled
into a deathly peaceful lull.
In the factories
no one stood on the assembly lines
In the banks 
no one begged for loans
or doled them out
In the schools
no one taught the state curriculum
and no one was bored

Day after day
everyone
everywhere
simply dreamt the time away
to the murmured
declamation
of immortal poetry
both ancient
and new

Everyone assumed
that soon
the infection
would burn itself out
and things would go back
to normal

But instead
the Poemic only settled in
with a happy gurgle
sinking its teeth
deep into the tender underbelly
of the human genome 

And so it went
for days
and weeks
and months
and years…

Suffice it to say
that to this day
no known victim
has ever recovered

This is perhaps
a loss for History
but all things considered
no one
seems to be 
complaining

Because
after the first onslaught
things began to change
in quite unobjectionable ways

People began to go about their days
speaking in poetry
and fixing things
and before long
no one was going hungry
no one was left out in the cold
no one sick was left uncared for
no one old was forgotten
no one sad was ignored
no one anywhere
was afraid
of dying lonely
and alone

Instead
people sang
while they made soup 
and someone
was always baking cookies
Farmers smiled
at their cows
and hummed 
while they fertilized their fields
Scientists 
stopped scorning testimonies
of life after death
Physicians healed
by laying on of hands
Chemists formulated
harmless potions
that dissolved pain
Teachers
led children into the fields
to study bugs and flowers
and wade in streams
and catch pollywogs
Young people studied 
what they loved
and got paid 
in poems

That was how it happened
that people stopped hurting each other
and simply did
what needed to be done,
and when the time came for rest
they sat together on porches
and admired the way
the dust motes danced
in rays of the sun

And little by little
in every place
every last member 
of the human race
began to wake up each day 
with a smile on their face
happy and peaceful
in every way
for no rational reason at all.






La Gran Poémica del Siglo XXI

Apareció un día
inesperadamente,
surgiendo como un todo
en distintos lugares
por todo el planeta

Los primeros casos conocidos
fueron un niño pequeño
en Lincoln, Nebraska,
a quien su madre encontró
una mañana
recitando extrañas
y hermosas palabras
con una pequeña sonrisa
en su carita
y una abuela
en Melbourne, Australia,
quien fue atrapada
ese mismo dia
vagando por los pasillos
de una tienda departamental
recitando versos
de la dinastía Tang

Después
la propagación poémica
seguramente se expandió
saltando como un rayo
en continentes enteros
y océanos

En Londres
una madre de seis se despertó
escupiendo Tennyson
y en muy poco tiempo
toda su familia estaba balbuceando
en pentámetro yámbico

En Buenos Aires una familia
fue golpeada
con las odas de Píndaro
en el original
de la Grecia antigua

En Beijing
todo un barrio
estaba infestado
con Billy Collins

Y así sucedió.
Cómo pudo la poémica
extenderse
tan lejos, tan ancho 
y tan rápido
nadie supo

Al principio
se pensaba 
que era transmitido simplemente 
a través de la palabra
pero pronto
partículas infecciosas
fueron descubiertas
montandose en ondas sonoras,
en rayos de sol
e incluso acurrucados
en pensamientos dispares

Los científicos también sabían
que a pesar de volar
siempre estaba produciendo
más y más esporas
que aterrizaban
se expandian
y crecian
en cualquier lugar

Era sólo
cuestión de tiempo
antes que toda la economía
del mundo
se había instalado
en una tregua mortalmente pacífica.

En las fábricas
nadie se detuvo en las líneas de montaje
en los bancos
nadie pidió préstamos
y nadie los repartió
En las escuelas
nadie enseñó el plan de estudios estatal
y nadie estaba aburrido

Día tras día
todo el mundo
en todas partes
simplemente soñaba el tiempo
a la murmurada
declamación
de poesía inmortal
antigua
y nueva

Todos asumieron
que la infección
pronto
desaparecería
y las cosas volverían
a la normalidad

Pero en vez
la poémica se instaló
con un feliz gorjeo 
hundiendo sus dientes
profundamente en el tierno vientre
del genoma humano

y asi sucedió
por dias
y semanas
y meses
y años ...

Basta decir
que hasta el día de hoy
ninguna víctima conocida
se ha recuperado

Esto es quizás
una pérdida histórica
pero considerando todas las cosas
nadie
parece estar
quejandose

Porque
después del primer ataque
las cosas empezaron a cambiar
de manera bastante inobjetable

La gente empezó a su rutina diaria
hablando en poesía
y arreglando cosas
y en poco tiempo
nadie pasaba hambre
nadie se quedó afuera en el frío
nadie se enfermó y se quedó sin cuidado
nadie de edad fue olvidado
nadie triste fue ignorado
y nadie en ningún lugar
tenía miedo
de morir solo

En cambio
la gente cantaba
mientras cocinaban
y alguien
siempre estaba horneando galletas
Los agricultores sonrieron
a sus vacas
y tarareaban canciones
mientras fertilizaban sus campos
Científicos
dejaron de despreciar los testimonios
de la vida después de la muerte
Los médicos sanaron
por la imposición de manos
Los químicos formularon
pociones inofensivas
que disuelven el dolor
Profesores
llevaron los niños a los campos
a estudiar insectos y flores
y a vadear arroyos
y capturar sapos
Los jóvenes estudiaron
lo que más deseaban
y fueron remunerados
con poemas

Así fue como sucedió
que la gente dejó de hacerse daño
y simplemente hizo
lo que se necesitaba hacer,
y cuando llegó el momento del descanso
se sentaron juntos en los porches
a admirar la forma que
las partículas de polvo bailaban
en los rayos del sol

Y poco a poco
en cada lugar
hasta el último miembro
de la raza humana
comenzó a despertar cada día
con una sonrisa en su rostro
feliz y pacífico
en todos los sentidos
sin ninguna razón especial.



Trudi Lee Richards is a poet, writer, singer-songwriter, mother and step-grandmother of several wonderful humans, and a member of the Community of Silo’s Message in Portland, Oregon. Published work includes Confessions of Olivia; On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo; Soft Brushes with Death; Fish Scribbles; and Experiences on the Threshold. Her work can be found at Winged Lion Press Cooperative, on her youtube channel, and on the Winged Lioness Podcast, a new podcast about rebelling against Death. Fernando Aranguiz translated the poem into Spanish. Fernando Aranguiz lives in Portland, Oregon. He writes from time to time. His poetry and fiction over the last 22 years has dealt with the subject of intuitions, aspirations, internal realities and the existential. His work is an expression of a search based in general on Siloist thought and in particular on Silo’s Message. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.

sociability (2020)

by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky


on this meek and mild morning
in our sudden isolation
I am staring out my window
while a doe is Sunday strolling
through a neighbor’s greening lawn
followed safely at a distance
by her spotted new world fawn



Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a longtime editor, slowly publishing poet, and author of six picture books, including From Apple Trees to Cider, Please! and The Boy Who Said Nonsense (Albert Whitman & Company). In 2018 she moved away from the masthead of an academic quarterly to work with people who want to share their stories, ideas, and poems in print. Her poetry received a 2020 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards honorable mention. Her fiction has been nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize and Best Microfiction Award. She lives with her family in Flemington, New Jersey. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

Eighty Percent

by Sheila Wellehan


People wondered why anyone
would drink hand sanitizer.
The response to the headline
CDC says people are dying
after drinking hand sanitizer
was ridicule. The news of impaired vision
and seizures, hospitalizations and deaths,
prompted funny gifs and emoticons
as well as witticisms like
Let them drink it. Kill the stupids.

Decades after leaving rehab,
the first thing that hit me
when I read my prized bottle’s label
was its alcohol content.
If I’d never gotten sober
and I was broke or stores closed,
hand sanitizer would be a tempting beverage –
eighty percent alcohol
would have a nice kick.
Eighty percent might just do the trick.



Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry is featured or forthcoming in The Night Heron BarksRust + MothThimble Literary MagazineTinderbox Poetry JournalWhale Road Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

After March Blew in like an Unholy Wind

by Margaret Koger


Summer, fall, winter …
January 2021 and I’m looking out a window

Where I see a flock of cedar waxwings
resting on the branches of the poplar tree.

For months and months, I’ve been reading
A tale of boys by my side today

Boys whose mother dies of the 1918 flu—
And birds, eyes masked in black, red wingtips

The brethren sail from limb to sinuous limb
Pause to drink from a rain gutter, fly again

Pluck berries from shrubs, swallow them whole
As doctors and nurses swoop from bed to bed

Endurance tried by flocks of new patients.
My thoughts long swollen into a single stream

The birds and I, dreaming in the unquiet air
I bury my head in a pillow.



Margaret Koger, a Lascaux Prize finalist, is a school media specialist with a writing habit. She lives near the river in Boise, Idaho. See more of her poetry online at Amsterdam Quarterly, Thimble, Trouvaille Review, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Ponder Savant, Subjectiv, and Last Leaves. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

Shattered

by Lori Corry


The way it breaks is the way it was,
first it pops then it explodes
shattered glass streaming all around 
like covid, shattered glass like covid,
like covid, like the shards you cannot see
streaming all around like sparklers

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear

on the fourth of July.
Broken systems, broken life
cleaning it all up takes discipline,
takes a broom, takes a dustpan, takes a vacuum,
takes a fricking lot of time
to clear your life of invisible threats.
Do not let them tell you it’s not real.
Do not let them tell you its all in your imagination

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear.

Hold on to your broken heart tightly, so tightly
until it mends itself restored, resurrected,
repaired. Find the golden glue,
find the red thread, sew it all up again,
then stop, take a breath, make 
yourself a beautifully truthful mask.

We freeze, we fight, we live in fear.



Lori Corry is a year-round resident of Nantucket Island, MA. She spends time investigating feminine divine energies and gaining creative inspiration from the stories and myths of our world’s many goddesses. Her poetry has been published in Chronogram Magazine, the Lily Poetry Review, and previously on Global Poemic. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

Alone

by Tom Barlow


Exhausted, I watch another body bag loaded into the
refrigerated truck outside St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

Above me, mourning doves perch on ledges, waiting
for my bread. Masked pedestrians cross to the other

side of the street, and even heathens make the sign
of the cross as they pass. A heartsick daughter stands

with binoculars in a window on the tenth floor across
Third Avenue, probably hoping to see into her father’s

hospital room, but I have closed the blinds in those rooms
against a sun that could only bring false hope.

All over town, ghosts shed their swaddling as they rise,
and the fabric floats down like birds gliding toward

strewn seed. I have never felt so alone.



Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer whose work has appeared in journals including The Stoneboat Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Harbinger Asylum, Heron Clan, The Remington Review, Your Daily Poem, and many more. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

Fallen

by Elizabeth Jaeger


Four o’clock is the hardest part of the day. If Dad were alive, it would be cocktail hour. He’d make drinks and we’d sit and talk. Or rather, I’d talk. He’d listen. Now, he’s not here, but sometimes I make that drink anyway and go outside — alone. On the deck, I perch in silence, missing Dad. I never knew silence could be so sad or that if you sit still long enough you can hear the leaves falling off the trees. They’re so light, so easily carried on the wind, but when they fall, they sound not unlike rain. 



Elizabeth Jaeger’s essays, short stories, book reviews and poetry have been published in various print and online journals, including The Write LifeCapsule StoriesWatchung Review, Ovunque Siamo, Peacock Journal, Boston Accent Lit, and Italian Americana. Newtown Literary published an excerpt from her novel-in-progress. She is the book review editor at Ovunque Siamo. When Jaeger isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys going hiking and taking road trips with her son. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

A Little Before Twelve

by Cynthia Andrews


I saw you today again in my mind
and we made love. You touched my
hand & held it for a very long time,
just as you have always done.  I kissed
your neck and the bristle of your cheek and
you pulled me toward you.  I got out of
the subway a little before noon, still
thinking of you after the long train
ride and surrounded by the smell of roses.
I was your muse, conjured up by your own
mind as a dream filters through a poem like
a goddess of light in a black gauze dress. 
You stroke my hair slowly and softly and make
me giggle and talk poetry long into the morning
hours.  You touch my hand and hold it for a
long time.  I kiss your neck & the bristle of
your cheek.  Your hand suddenly dips into
my blouse and I slap it hard, but you make me
laugh so much that it really doesn’t matter. 
One of my buttons drops to the floor and I
hear it click but I really don’t care what’s happening
around me, except for how good your skin feels
on me.  I feel your wet lips on mine and can taste
the beer you had a moment ago.  I saw you again
today in my mind and we made love again.



Cynthia Andrews is a veteran of the New York City poetry circuit, and has read in such venues as The St. Marks Poetry Project, Mid-Manhattan Library, The Nuyorican Poets Café and the Cornelia Street Café; as well as the radio programs, Teachers and Writers in the Morning, WBAI FM and Cable TV. Her work as appeared in Downtown Magazine, The Voice Literary Supplement, Tribes Literary Journal, Longshot, etc.; as well as the anthologies ALOUD: Voices from the Nuyorican Café, In Heat, The Unbearables, Will Fight for Peace, etc.  She was one of the first to be included in the Spoken Word library of Poets House. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 1995 and 1996, she was also recognized by Downtown Magazine for the Downtown Year of the Poet Award in 1996. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and resides in New York City. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

Our son calls me into his room after bedtime again

by Shea Tuttle


Tonight, he is worried, his eyes bright
in the darkness. What’s wrong? I ask.
I keep coughing, he says. Oh, Sugar,
I say, leaning to kiss his forehead.
This is a trick I learned
by accident: it looks like
reflexive affection, idle
comfort, but really
I am taking his temperature. He is
cool. Cool as a cucumber, as my mother
used to say, her hand smooth
against my forehead. You just need
some sleep, I tell our son, also a line
from my mother. Mentally, I measure
pollen counts, today’s degree
of physical exertion, what he ate
for dinner, lunch, breakfast.
I remember the Saharan dust cloud,
the air quality warning in the neighboring county.
I think you’re going to be just fine,
I tell him, kiss him again. I notice
I sound calm, confident. I say
I love you, like always. I go back
to my bed, where my laptop waits,
my browser open to a graph
of case counts, the line falling through
April, May, part of June, then at the very edge
of the graph, the part that meets
the empty space of now, a rise.
I listen, but the house is quiet
except for the dog who, though sleeping,
is snuffling and half-howling,
his own dreams, I imagine, taking him
on walks without leashes,
through yards without fences,
after cats and rabbits, squirrels and blue jays
that always only just get away.



Shea Tuttle is the author of Exactly as You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers and co-editor of Can I Get a Witness: Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith and Justice. She lives in Virginia with her family. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.   

New York April, 2020

by Alison Stone


Season of blossoms, freedom, bunnies, reborn son.
The devout beam with faith although
there’s so much, and so many, gone.
Muttering in nightmare, my husband grabs my hair.

The devout beam with faith, despite
unclaimed bodies being buried in mass graves.
Muttering in nightmare, my husband grabs my hair.
To soothe himself, he watches The Sopranos.

Unclaimed bodies are being buried in mass graves.
The curve rises like forbidden bread.
To soothe themselves, people watch The Sopranos,
death contained in a screen.

The curve rises like forbidden bread.
No gathering for matzoh or chocolate eggs.
Death broadcasts from our screens,
both science and prayer ineffective.

No gathering for matzoh or chocolate eggs.
Businesses, dreamed and built for decades, lost.
Both science and prayer ineffective.
I’m not betting on resurrection.

Businesses dreamed and built for decades, lost.
There’s so much, and so many, gone.
I’m not betting on a resurrection,
despite blossoms, freedom, bunnies, reborn sun.



Alison Stone has published six full-length collections, Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, a book of collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was recently Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack, NY. Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.